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IQ Weather Blog

IQ Weather Extra: A Long Autumn OR A Cold Winter?

Global weather patterns are strongly influenced by the location and strength of warm and cold pools of ocean water. Remember that approximately 71% of the Earth is covered with water, and that water retains heat.

When that heat is released into the atmosphere, warmer areas of sea water promote lower pressure in the air above. And, the ocean water temperature patterns change slowly. This results in the areas where weather patterns become “anchored” until the underlying ocean water temperatures change.

By observing changes in the ocean water temperature patterns, we can see where areas of low and high pressure may be anchored now, and where they may shift. This helps guide us in our long ranger forecasting thought process.

This year, we are seeing a cooling of the water off the North Pacific coast of the United States, while seeing a warming trend along the Northeast coast. Here is a picture of the ocean patterns one year ago…

And the patterns today.

Compare the...

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IQ Weather Blog: How To Avoid Being Fooled

One thing IQ Weather focuses on is correctly interpreting data, historical context, and understanding when you are only getting part of the story.

Over the summer months, there was a focus on the hot weather over the western United States, the wildfires, and dry weather.  In recent weeks, there has been a focus on hurricanes…since it’s hurricane season. There are constant claims that we are living in unprecedented times from a climate perspective, and people use snippets of science reports to back up these claims.

The truth is that all of the things we heard about this past year have happened in the past. Both weather, and climate are cyclical.  The most important climate cycles are tied to the energy received by the sun…and the changes in that energy over time.  There are some solar cycles that will last up to 100,000 years. A 30-year average means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Remember, satellite data only goes back to 1979…and...

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IQ Weather Science Extra: Water-The Miracle Substance

Today, IQ Weather’s science blog discusses the miracle of water.

Water is something we use every day. We drink it, wash things in it, bathe in it, swim in it, and all the while probably don’t think about how important it is to life on earth!

Water can exist in three different forms at the same time; gas, solid, and liquid. The point at where all three can exist is called the “triple point”. And water’s triple point temperature falls within a range that makes our planet’s temperature livable. If it did not, earth would be a very different place!

Water stores and releases heat as it changes from one form to another. When water is boiled it must absorb enough heat for the water molecules to turn to a vapor.  When that vapor cools, it releases the heat that is absorbed back into the air. And when water freezes, it releases the heat that it took to keep it in liquid form. And when ice is melted, it absorbs heat to return to liquid form. In these...

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IQ Weather Blog: Torrential Rains Pose Deadly Threat

Recent reports of flooding rains in Tennessee and the torrential downpours from Hurricane Ida, and its remnants, brings the topic of flash flooding to IQ Weather.

September is the midpoint of hurricane season in the northern hemisphere.


Of course, hurricanes and tropical storms are very heavy rain producers, and there is always a threat for flash flooding with them. That is because they form over warm ocean water and, as a result, contain massive amounts of water vapor that can turn back into rain. Plus, tropical storm systems move rather slowly, so it takes a while for them to move over any one area. The slow movement increases the potential for rainfall dramatically. 

It’s not uncommon for a tropical storm or hurricane to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain over any one location. In 2001, Hurricane Allison produced up to 40 inches of rain

Water is a non-compressible fluid.  It can produce enormous pressure on anything in its path. For example, water...

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IQ Weather Blog: Summer Twilight

Now that we have passed the mid-point of summer, and heading rapidly toward meteorological fall on September 1st, the daylight is starting to become noticeably shorter across the United States.

As of today, August 2nd, the amount of daylight loss ranges from about 1 minute in south Florida, to about 30 minutes in northern Alaska!

We talk a lot about the sun’s impact on weather, and the longer daylight hours during the summer months make it easier for the atmosphere to stay warm and heat up quickly each day.

But, as the daylight begins to shorten and the sun angle lowers, it allows the heat of the summer to begin to back off slowly.

The oceans store enormous amounts of heat, and because they release that heat slowly, there is a lag time between the longest days and the hottest days of summer. That is why the weather stays relatively warm even into the autumn months.

What we love here at IQ Weather is how the summer evenings can remain so bright even after the sun has dropped...

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IQ Weather Extra: Summer Storm Season Transitions

During the summer months, storm patterns and tracks shift farther northward. By mid-summer, the threat for severe storms weakens and shifts to the central and northern plains states and the upper Midwest.

The impact of the longer duration of daylight is to warm the atmosphere enough to cause the jet stream pattern northward. As you may recall from our IQ Weather lessons, the jet stream is a main ingredient for strong storm formation.

When the jet stream drifts farther north and weakens during the summer months, severe weather becomes less frequent.

As the end of summer approaches, and the overall atmosphere begins to cool, the jet stream will typically begin to drift back southward slowly. That sets up a second min-severe weather season in the autumn.

Summertime is also the early part of the hurricane season!  As of today, we have had 5 named storms so far. The peak of hurricane season is in September, and hurricane season does not end until the last day of November. As you...

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IQ Weather Homeschool Extra: An Old Weather Forecasting Trick!

During the spring and summer months, as the air heats up, the chance for storms climbs. But how do you know if the air is hot enough to create thunderstorms? IQ Weather knows!

One tool that meteorologists use is the data that comes from weather balloons.  In fact, lesson number 23 in our weather course takes you on a field trip to a National Weather Service balloon launch so you can see where this information comes from!  We call the end product and upper air sounding!

Upper air soundings, give us a lot of information about the air overhead, including a variety of indices that we use to measure the risk for severe weather. The temperature and humidity profile is plotted on a graph called a Skew T.  Today, we are going to focus on two pieces of data that can, when tell you how hot the air must become for storms to develop, and whether or not that is likely.

The first bit of information on the sounding that we’ll focus on is called the MaxT, or forecast maximum...

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IQ Weather Remembers the Andover Tornado

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Andover, Kansas tornado. On April 26, 1991 there was an outbreak of severe storms that produced this famous F-5 tornado. At the time the Enhanced Fujita Scale or EF scale had not been developed so it was not rated an EF-5.

This tornado was part of a TORNADO WATCH that was only the second in the United states to use “strong language” to described the potential for sever weather, including tornadoes. Now, in 2021, that is a common practice whenever a particularly dangerous weather situation is expected to develop.

Mike Smith is a meteorologist who was working that storm on television that day. Here is a link to his blog about the event.

The Andover tornado demolished parts of the small town of Andover, located east of Wichita, Kansas. The tornado was quite easy to spot, as this area is out in the plains near the Flint Hills of Kansas where there are not a lot of trees, or large building to block the view. 


A total of 17...

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IQ WEATHER: Weekend Update-Tornado Season Detour

For severe weather to occur, you need heat and humidity. Typically, by mid-April, we are starting to see storm season kick into gear. But this April has turned cold in the plains states where tornado season should normally be getting underway.

First, look at the normal expectation for severe weather on April 17:


Now look at how much colder the temperatures will be today (April 17th) in about the same area:


Some spots will be nearly 30° below average today!  This chilly pattern will persist for the next week before it turns around!

While frost may be a concern for the early spring flowers…tornadoes will take a back seat a while longer!

IQ Weather homeschool learning, severe weather season, severe weather climatology, weather update, weather class at home, homeschool weather curriculum, cold April weather

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